Republicans offer details on environmental proposals after Democrats roll out plan

Republicans offer details on environmental proposals after Democrats roll out plan
© Greg Nash

House Republicans offered new details about their plans for environmental legislation after Democrats rolled out their own sweeping proposal last week, though leadership said the move was not a response to the Democrats plan.

At a Thursday morning meeting first reported by The Hill, lawmakers pitched their colleagues on a variety of approaches that could be incorporated into the eventual package. 

House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenOVERNIGHT ENERGY:  House passes sweeping clean energy bill | Pebble Mine CEO resigns over secretly recorded comments about government officials  | Corporations roll out climate goals amid growing pressure to deliver House passes sweeping clean energy bill Hillicon Valley: DOJ proposes tech liability shield reform to Congress | Treasury sanctions individuals, groups tied to Russian malign influence activities | House Republican introduces bill to set standards for self-driving cars MORE (R-Ore.) told The Hill that the proposals would build upon a legislative package already endorsed by the minority, ranging from “forestry ideas” to investing in new research and planting trees.

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“This really I think sets the stage for our involvement not only in climate but other environmental related issues,” he said. 

House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis ranking member Garret GravesGarret Neal GravesHouse GOP seeks to cement Trump rollback of bedrock environmental law Oil and gas is a partner — not an adversary — in meeting our economic and environmental goals OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push resolution to battle climate change, sluggish economy and racial injustice | Senators reach compromise on greenhouse gas amendment stalling energy bill | Trump courts Florida voters with offshore drilling moratorium MORE (R-La.) told The Hill that at the meeting, Republicans discussed a mix of both old and new bills. 

He said that a package, which could be released in the coming months, could include investing in research and development as well as efforts to make communities more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Thursday’s meeting follows the announcement of a broad package being developed by Democrats that requires 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050, a mandate that includes a clean energy credit trading system. The transportation sector would also have to be emissions free by 2050 through increasingly tight vehicle standards. 

Buildings and industry would also be required to use materials from more eco-friendly sources and meet stricter building codes under the Democratic plan. 

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The Republican effort is being led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy says there will be a peaceful transition if Biden wins GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power McCarthy claims protests in Louisville, other cities are 'planned, orchestrated events' MORE (R-Calif.), whose office stressed in a Wednesday email to The Hill that it was not a response to the Democrats’ proposal

"This is a policy conference to discuss how conservative solutions have been the greatest driver of emissions reductions in the world and how these principles are the road map for a cleaner environment here at home and around the globe," McCarthy spokesman Matt Sparks said by email. 

Graves told The Hill that at the meeting, GOP lawmakers also talked about “concerns related to some of the proposals that have been proffered on climate” by Democrats. He cited economic factors and possible reliance on foreign fuels. 

Environmental advocates, however, criticized the Republican conference based on the party’s past record on the issues.

"Let's get real: Congressional Republicans and Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Trump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance MORE just blocked a package of clean energy tax credits from being included in the year-end tax and budget deal,” Sierra Club global climate policy director John Coequyt said in a statement. 

“That was a serious and limited solution they failed to support, but they are suddenly serious a few weeks later after decades of climate denial,” Coequyt added. 

Rebecca Beitsch contributed.